Exploring the Stars, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School, March 25th, 2014

Partly cloudy skies with hazy clouds greeted 31 visitors (28 students and 3 adults) from the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School Grade-9 class for Exploring the Stars at the Cronyn Observatory, Tuesday, March 25th, 2014, 6:30 p.m. Graduate student Tony Martinez made the digital slide presentation The Big Bang and then proceeded with his next presentation, Mars fielding questions during and after both presentations.

RASC London Centre member Bob Duff made ready the 25.4cm refractor (28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece, 157X) in the dome and, since the sky was still bright, directed it towards a red light on the communications tower in south London. Bob also set up the London Centre’s 25.4cm Dobsonian (17mm Nagler eyepiece, 66X) on the roof patio and directed it towards the weathervane on the Engineering building. When everybody arrived upstairs in the dome, Bob gave a talk on the history of the Cronyn Observatory and the technical aspects of the big 25.4cm refractor. He also explained the 2 clocks on the east wall of the dome and the difference between Standard and Sidereal Time.

By now Jupiter was visible in the sky and there was no need to view the communications tower in the big 25.4cm refractor. Tony directed the big 25.4cm refractor towards Jupiter, which made an excellent view in the 28mm Meade Super Wide Angle eyepiece (157X). Bob closed the dome entrance door to eliminate warm air from inside the building smearing views through the big telescope. Bob then replaced the 17mm Nagler (66X) with the higher magnification 12.5mm Ortho (89X) eyepiece in the 25.4cm Dobsonian and directed it towards Jupiter. The visitors were delighted by the views through both telescopes. In the Dobsonian Jupiter made a fine sight with the 4 Galilean moons visible, 3 to the left and one later observed far to the right of the planet.

Increasing hazy clouds eventually dimmed Jupiter and everybody was gone by around 8:45 p.m. after a very successful and enjoyable evening learning about astronomy and observing Jupiter through the telescopes.